stigma stories

15:31 05/08/2014 Posted in Blog, Photography, Teaching | Leave a comment

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a project to train a group of people, all on benefits, to speak out against the stigma of poverty.

The idea behind the course, commissioned by Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam, was to create a network of spokespeople who could talk about the reality of life lived at the sharp end of welfare reform.

These spokespeople would powerfully challenge the current scrounger/ skiver narrative.


As well as running six workshops with the group, I set up a website, www.stigmastories.com, to tell the stories of individual members.

I organised an event to introduce them to the community, which included a panel debate to discuss some of the issues they raised.

Listening to the panel discussion at the NICE event

The project has been a huge success. As well as receiving coverage in the Independent newspaper, there were also articles in Salford Online, the Salford Star, the Big Issue, and the Daily Mirror.

They are being interviewed by BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Radio 5 Live; four documentary companies, including one from Channel 4′s Cutting Edge strand, want to tell the group’s story.

The group are still regularly meeting, and are in the process of becoming a formally recognised organisation.


albion high school

11:38 21/02/2013 Posted in Teaching | Leave a comment

Teaching four classes of various ages across five weeks, this project worked with Albion High School, Salford, and Curriculum Plus to use journalism to enrich learning.

Based on the constraint of conducting a five-minute interview, one group questioned staff across the school community on a number of issues, editing them into audio interviews.

Another developed review skills, using the film Kes to broaden their understanding of what films can and should be.

One group wrote news articles based on the John Steinbeck novel ‘Of Mice and Men’, using their position as journalists to understand the contemporary issues of the time; another produced feature articles and vox pops on a variety of subjects, from building a spaceship to the presence of CCTV in the school.

“Our all boys group have benefited massively. For lads who have been in Salford, in several cases, for less than a year to feel confident enough to conduct and record interviews with key professionals in our school and to take photographs too is a big achievement. I have watched them grow in stature.” Lee Reid, Head of English, Albion High


kingsley primary school

15:29 20/02/2013 Posted in Teaching | Leave a comment

As part of the Good Society project run by CTBI, I taught a group of 30 Year 5 pupils at Kingsley Primary School, Toxteth, Liverpool in April 2012.

The project was designed to help the pupils learn basic journalism skills to enable them to report on what is ‘good’ about Toxteth, thereby overturning some of the negative stereotypes about their neighbourhood.

They visited a local allotment project, Growing Granby, and learned about the geographical history of the area.

The went to the local Unity Youth Club, and saw the free activities they provide for local children. They also visited Granby Care Home, and met Maria, who helped change some of their perceptions around old people.In addition, they interviewed each other about what is good – and what needs to change – in Toxteth.

Their work was gathered into a newspaper, the Kingsley Kanga News. To download a copy of the paper, click here

“Thank you ever so much for coming to my school. I had so much fun! I hope you can come in again and see us soon I really had fun interviewing people. I hope you have also missed me and my class. That was the most fun week of my life when you came to see us. Keep up the good journalism. And what I most liked was listening to quotes, because the quotes nearly made me cry.” Hannan Mussa Husayn, 11


cravenwood primary school

14:04 20/02/2013 Posted in Teaching | Leave a comment

In February 2011, I was commissioned to teach journalism skills to a group of Year 6 pupils at Cravenwood Primary School, in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

The school was being redeveloped, and the idea was to support children to report on their school community and the new building.

In addition, the paper was also designed to celebrate the creation of a new artwork which formed the centrepiece of the new building.

We created a newspaper, the Cravenwood Chronicle. To download a copy, click here  – and to read a blog about its progress, here.

Children learnt the difference between features and news; how to write shorthand; how to take effective and accurate notes and quotes; and how to structure a news article.

They went out and about in their community, interviewing local shopkeepers, and vox popping members of the community about fashion.

They also wrote about their latest school trip; the diversity of the school community, the importance of picking litter; and interviewed members of staff about what motivates them. The newspaper also featured a section commemorating the opening of the school building.

Working with a filmmaker, I also made a documentary film about the role of creativity within the school, interviewing staff, pupils, and parents.


manchester communications academy

18:48 07/10/2012 Posted in Teaching | Leave a comment

Working with Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Urban Education, this nine-week project in May to July 2011 taught 20 12-year-old pupils digital filming, still photography, interviewing and reviewing skills.

Pupils used the skills to create reviews and a documentary film in response to a visit to see ‘Flashback’, an exhibition by world-renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor at Manchester Art Gallery.

They also originated their own art sculptures.

Their work featured on a new digital web channel, CUE TV. The ambition is to roll-out CUE TV for other schools across Greater Manchester and the region.

“The students did more writing in a morning’s workshop than they ever usually would in an art lesson when they were learning, ‘how to be a journalist’.” Louise Nelson, Head of Art at Manchester Communication Academy

“I have enjoyed the experience of this project because it can help me in later life and I have learnt how to explain a piece of artwork in more detail.” 12-year-old pupil, Manchester Communication Academy

manchester health academy

17:28 07/10/2012 Posted in Teaching | Leave a comment

In June 2011, Creative Partnerships asked me to create an online radio station with a group of 14 Year 10 pupils at Manchester Health Academy, Wythenshawe.

Workshops focused on learning interview and note-taking skills, whilst becoming familiar with the recording equipment.

We also identified a number of issues of importance to the area. These included the regeneration of Wythenshawe Town centre, and the recent vandalism of the local Horticultural Gardens.

The students met Paul Goggins, the local MP, interviewing him in his office. A local youth forum gave them a guided tour of the gardens, and explained how they were cleaning up the damage.

Students discovered what life is life for local market traders. We visited the United Estates of Wythenshawe community gym, interviewing the owner about how he is tackling gang-related crime in the area.

Other pieces featured Benchill Community Centre, who have helped turn round a crime-ridden estate, and the transformation of a community woodland.

The end of the six-week course concluded with a trip to the Manchester Evening News, where the students interviewed journalists to find out how a real newsroom works.

Students pieces were uploaded to create an online radio station, Radio MHA.

stockport school

20:31 06/10/2012 Posted in Teaching | Leave a comment

Creative Partnerships asked myself and film-maker Will Aldersley to develop documentary and interview skills with AS-level students at Stockport School.

Students took a walking tour of Offerton, and a film documented the day. The group also attended a local forum, interviewing residents and and capturing their views on how the area could be improved.

Following some workshops, the students presented their ideas to the community, who were very happy with the results.

Based on the three priorities of increasing pride, changing perceptions, and creating solidarity, the students collaborated with the community to create a film featuring both young and old residents.

They created posters, badges, and sandwich boards filled with slogans celebrating the area, while increasing awareness of the neighbourhood plan. The materials were distributed to the community at an allotment open day. They have since been used during the re-opening of the local community centre.

Stockport Council now hope to continue their collaboration with the school.

“We were really impressed with the level of understanding and insight that the young people demonstrated and their grasp of the issues and how these translated into the projects they presented. The level of creativity and enthusiasm was clearly evident, and each group had worked hard to come up with something different and unique to offer the Offerton Community.” Catriona Duncan-Rees, Stronger Officer Offerton Neighbourhood Management Board, Stockport Council